The Norwegian government announced on Wednesday that Norway will clamp down on people who are “abusing” the asylum system. People seeking asylum after crossing the land border between Norway and Russia will be immediately rejected, he said.
“This is a group of asylum seekers that we do not consider to be at risk of persecution in Russia. Their decision to leave Russia for Norway is a misuse of the asylum system,” said Minister of Justice and Public Security Anders Anundsen in a government statement.
The Justice Ministry has told border officials to process the asylum applications “while the people concerned are still at the Storskog border crossing facilities,” he added.
Anundsen said that Norway wants to immediately weed out those whose cases shouldn’t be considered and send them back to Russia as quickly as possible. The government added that it will continue to look for “exceptional circumstances” in which people crossing at Storskog “qualify for full consideration of their case in Norway”.
More than 5,000 migrants have crossed the border at Storksog since the beginning of the year, compared with only 10 in 2014. Many of them come to Norway after extended periods in Russia.
The ministry’s decision comes after Norway announced that it will step up its border controls on Thursday in response to Sweden’s plan to implement stricter asylum rules. The new approach at the Storskog border station will also begin on Thursday and Norway has said that its increased border measures will be in place for at least ten days.
The Norwegian parliament fast-tracked a series of asylum restrictions last week that the Progress Party boasted would make Norway “probably the strictest country in Europe, along with Denmark” when it comes to asylum.